Governance

May 2017 update - The Voluntary Code of Good Governance in Sport & Recreation has now been superseded by the Principles of Good Governance for Sport & Recreation. The Sport & Recreation Alliance has been working with UK Sport and the home countries sports councils on this document, which is now a set of principles, not a code. This is primarily because the Code for Sports Governance takes precedence for funded sports bodies in England (BPA is not publicly funded).

The information below records BPA's governance journey from 2014-7, when transitional arrangements to a newly-constituted board (BPA Council) began, and are being phased in over a period of three years.

 

In working to the Voluntary Code of Good Governance for the Sport and Recreation Sector, BPA has commissioned an independent report from Amanda Bennett, a leading expert on sports governance.

The UK sport sector is embracing good governance. BPA is proud to be part of this.

In October 2014, BPA Council published theBPA Governance Consultation Report to start a conversation with members about how to assure the governance of our Association meets the demands of the 21st century. This will help to build a stronger Association and through it a stronger sport for the future. 

Council established a Sronger Future Working Group in 2015, and consulted with members on changes to the constitution of Council to bring it into line with best practice and good governance. The changes were recommended by Council as a special resolution to the AGM in January 2016, which carried unanimously.

This web page was created for the consultation period with members during 2015. We are leaving it online as it provides background information which we hope members may continue to find useful.

 

Some background:  Good governance - it's in the wind

There’s something in the wind.  It’s been coming for a while. Now it’s really gaining traction. It’s called ‘good governance’.

'Governance' refers to the practices and processes by which an organisation is directed and controlled.

So what is 'good governance' all about? It’s about making sure organisations are well run for the benefit of all their stakeholders, and that they are socially responsible. Good governance benefits everyone. But it doesn’t just happen by chance. Over time, clear principles have emerged.

Organisations vary hugely in size and purpose. Some are commercial, others are for public service, and still others - such as the BPA - are not-for-profit membership bodies, in our case to pursue a passion for the sport of skydiving.

The principles of good governance apply to every type of organisation, but it’s not a case of one size fits all. The principles have to be applied according to each organisation’s structure and purpose. The tide of good governance has reached the sport and recreation sector and it has been codified in the Voluntary Code of Good Governance, promoted by the Sport & Recreation Alliance (of which BPA is a longstanding member). The Code is supported by government and official agencies including UK Sport and all of the home countries’ sports councils.

 

The seven principles

The Code is a tool to help sports governing bodies, such as the BPA, to meet the high expectations of them in the 21stcentury. It focuses on seven principles:

1.  Integrity: Acting as guardians of the sport

2.  Defining and evaluating the role of the board

3.  Delivery of vision, mission and purpose

4.  Objectivity: Balanced, inclusive and skilled board

5.  Standards, systems and controls

6.  Accountability and transparency

7.  Understanding and engaging with the sporting landscape.

The Code is not prescriptive. The principles it sets out are for bodies such as the BPA to apply to their own organisational development.

 

The benefits

Nearly 100 sports and recreation bodies have signed up to the Code and more are likely to do so. The benefits are that it:

  • enables self-regulation of a sport (and avoids the likelihood of costly statutory regulation)
  • inspires effective leadership
  • boosts stakeholder and investor (including sponsor) confidence
  • promotes transparency
  • assists in building sustainability
  • helps to create 21st century organisations.

 

Sign up

In 2012, BPA Council announced its intention to sign up to the Code. But there was work to do first. Most Council meetings in 2013 took one of the principles per meeting to explore in more depth. Council looked at how far the BPA’s current structures and procedures met best practice. It was clear we were already well along the road. BPA formally signed up to the code in January 2015.

In 2014, we had a remainder of probably the final 20-30 per cent of the Code to examine, but this includes the most challenging aspects to do with the structure and function of the board (which is to say, BPA’s board of directors, the Council). Council decided to engage an external independent expert as facilitator to help to explore these most challenging aspects of governance, which is likely to include some perspectives that are new to the BPA. These are likely to feature in an important conversation within the membership over the coming months or even years.

It is a path on which BPA is not short of companion travellers, as many if not now a majority other spots national governing bodies share in the same aspirations, and some have already achieved them. Just google ‘voluntary code of good governance - sport’ to get a snapshot of the response it has triggered in the sport and recreation sector. Adoption of the Voluntary Code of Good Governance is seen as a ‘quality mark’ of national governing bodies in sport, indeed it could now be said to be an expectation.

 

Doesn't our sport deserve the best?

You could argue that the opposite to good governance is bad governance - but that would be to sensationalise the case. The opposite to good governance is, in the vast majority of cases, much more prosaic. It’s the specious sense of wellbeing that can come from a laissez-faire, ‘why change?’ attitude and simply carrying on as we always have because it’s served us well (or, at least, always got us through) in the past. The opposite to good governance is doing nothing worse than looking inwards to our own sport and backwards at custom and practice, rather than outwards to other sports and what they are doing to raise their game to meet the challenges of governance in the 21st century. Doesn’t our sport deserve the best?

The recommendations on which Council consulted are:

1  Reduce the size of Council from 15 to 10-12 to make it more efficient and focus on vision, mission and strategic outcomes.

2  Increase the term of office on Council from one year to three or four years, with a limit of eight or nine years of continuous service.

3  Ensure that only approximately one third of the seats on Council come up for election each year, so improving continuity and reducing business risk.

4  Consider electing to Council, to complement the skills profile of Council as a whole, two volunteer independent non-Executive Directors from outside our sport with specific skills and experience to help progress BPA’s mission and vision. This will ensure that Council has individuals who are truly independent and focused on what is best for all the membership.

5  Consider electing an Executive Director (the Chief Operating Officer) to Council.

 

Outcome of consultation

1-4 above had been generally well received by members. 5 above had not found support in the membership consultation process and therefore will not be progressed as part of the planned changes. Council is now formulating special resolutions to put to the membership at the next AGM on the basis of 1-4 above together with transitional arrangements to phase-in the new composition of Council.

 

The process for change

A special resolution to vary the BPA's governing instrument, our Articles of Association, was put to the BPA AGM on Saturday 30 January 2016. It carried unanimously. So we are now in a transition phase between the old and new constitution of BPA Council. See our Articles for more.

 

"Good governance is about not only looking inwards at our own sport and backwards at custom and practice, but looking outwards at other sports and forwards to an exciting and ever more challenging future." - Martin Soulsby, BPA Chair, BPA Annual Report 2014

Amanda Bennett (Governance Adviser, Sport & Recreation Alliance) presents BPA Chair Martin Soulsby with BPA's sign-up certificate to the Voluntary Code of Good Governance on the day of the BPA AGM, Saturday 24 January 2015

Updated 12 October 2017

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